123 Junk Blog – 123 Junk was started by a college graduate who is noted by the Washington Business Journal as turning “junk heaps into gold mines.” Their blog is very business-centric and has some great posts that focus on building the customer-business relationship.
Pablo Picasso was sitting in a restaurant one day when a woman walked up and asked if he would draw her a sketch. He said OK, and jotted down a quick sketch. When the woman went to take the drawing, Picasso held back and said, “That will be $10,000.”
The woman was outraged. “How can you charge me $10,000 when it only took you five minutes!”
Picasso politely answered, “No ma’am. It took me 50 years.”
I love this story because it reflects upon my own life as a marketing copywriter. People often wonder why I charge the rates I do, especially if the copy is short.
Here’s where they’re missing the connection:
Like Good Art, Good Writing Take Years of Preparation and Practice
I have honed my craft for more than 40 years, studying and learning how to write professional marketing copy for all the different mediums and outcomes: print, online, web, social media, white papers, grants, sales letters, advertisements, etc. It isn’t something I take, or do lightly. It is a talent as well as a profession, as it was with Pablo Picasso.
It’s not a fluke that I’ve won a prestigious Clio award, and other writing accolades. Those type of results only come from serious study of the art form.
When someone wants a job done well, they go to a professional. For example, if you need a heart transplant, you want the best, most experienced heart surgeon possible, and you’d expect to pay top dollar for an excellent result. Right? Would you trust the heart surgeon that didn’t charge a professional rate? I think not.
It’s the same with your business. Why spend the money on shoddy work that could actually stop the heartbeat of your business? Wouldn’t you rather have the best, most trained person possible to help you create a healthy flow of business?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of “wanna-be” copywriters out there. I know, because I get a lot of their work from my clients who ask me to “fix it.” My poor clients sadly then have to pay double for the same work–once to the not-so-good copywriter, and once to me, when for a lot less money, they could have gotten the best the first time. Think about that when you’re comparing writing costs.
Short Copy is Harder to Write than Long Copy
Short copy must deliver your entire message in the fewest words possible. This means that each and every word must carry weight and importance. Finding the right words to convince, influence, enlighten, or persuade also takes years of practice honing the skill. And a good writer can do it quickly. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, short writing is the most difficult type of writing.
In a writing class, I was asked to write a short story containing only 10 words. It was a wonderful exercise in storytelling that I’ve used many times when writing marketing copy for clients.
Pablo Picasso may have been controversial, but nobody could say that he wasn’t a true genius. I hope someday people regard my work that way, although I doubt it will ever appear in a museum — hmmm, unless I’m hired to write the art descriptions, catalogs, sales copy, promotions… Come to think of it, maybe my writing WILL appear in a museum someday.
If you want the best marketing copywriting, please contact All the Buzz.
When we used to use typewriters, in order for the copy to be read clearly, it needed two spaces to set it apart. There was only only font, after all, and it was not as easy to read as our modern proportional fonts found on computers.
Today, every computer is proportional, and good writers know to only put one space following a sentence. Even the style guides, like the Chicago Manual of Style, dictate that a single space should be used. Likewise, only one space should be used after a colon or semicolon.
Nothing looks more amateurish on your website than copy containing double spaces. Take another look at your website and other written materials to make sure you’re up to date on publishing style.
When is the Last Time You Updated Your Website Copy?
If your website is dated, or you haven’t refreshed your copy in several years, it may be time to call in a professional copywriter, like All the Buzz. We’re experts in creating compelling copy that will highlight and illuminate your company, and get you noticed on the web. Contact us today.
I was listening to a TED Talk today that offered to teach people how to find their true calling in just five minutes. In it, the speaker, Adam Leipzig, asked the audience five questions:
- What is your name?
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What do those people want and need?
- How do they change as a result?
When he asked the first question, of course everyone in the audience knew the answer, however, as he progressed down the short list, the responses became fewer and fewer. Although most people knew what they did, they knew not why they did it.
The last question, #5, is the most important, he said. Knowing how you make a difference in someone’s life or work is how you should answer the question, “What do you do.”
In other words, instead of saying, “I do bookkeeping,” you could answer, “I keep people’s monthly accounting up to date so they know exactly how their business is doing at any time.”
Look for the real reason people rely on you and your service, and engage and intrigue your audience with the benefit.
All the Buzz Can Uncover Your Real Value
If you have difficulty defining what it is you really do in terms of its benefit, that’s where we come in. Let a professional writer, like us, look at your website copy and your marketing materials. We’ll uncover the real benefits of doing business with you and help you share them with the world with more compelling sales messages that get results. Contact us today.
Many years ago, when I was cutting my teeth as a business writer, I made the same mistake. Then my editor told me to go back over my copy and edit out every time I used the word “that.” He said it would make my copy stronger, and you know, he was right. Although the use of “that” might be grammatically correct, it is unnecessary and overused.
Now, there are times when you need to use the word “that,” but most times it is superfluous to the copy. Effective copy needs to be brief and clear. If you are using the word “that,” you are using too many words in your sentence. How can you cut back the sentence to make a more powerful and interesting statement?
Can you see the difference in this example?
- Original: Margot said that she was going to take dancing lessons so that she would someday become a great ballerina.
- Better said: Margot planned to take dancing lessons, hoping to someday become a great ballerina.
If it is a person, use “who.”
When writing about a person, use the word “who” instead of “that,” as in this example:
- Original: The man that held the door was wearing a green uniform.
- Better said: The man who held the door wore a green uniform.
Hire an Expert Business Copywriter
When you’re considering hiring a copywriter, ask for writing samples, and note how many times you see the word “that.” If it is used more than a few times, you’ll know you’re working with a beginner, and may not get the best bang for your buck. It’s a quick way to tell.
When you need powerful, effective business writing, hire an expert. Contact All the Buzz.
Even as a professional writer, I have to review everything I write to make sure I am writing in “active voice.” I review for it in my professional writing as well as my everyday correspondences via email or letters, and believe it or not, I usually find at least one place where I can make my writing stronger.
What is Active Voice?
When using active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb: The girl brushed the dog. An example of this same sentence in passive voice would be: The dog was brushed by the girl. One tip for identifying a passive sentence is to look for the word “by.”
Why is Active Voice Important?
Active voice sentences are preferable in writing because Continue reading →
One of the companies for which All the Buzz writes blog posts is listed as one of the “Top 10” blogs in their industry. We’re excited by the listing and the client is thrilled. Not only does their listing (holding its own against the big national companies) give credibility to their company, it elevates them in both online searches and credibility in the eyes of their customers. In addition, the client, 123JUNK, has seen a significant rise in their web traffic with regular blog posting.
The industry itself isn’t glamorous, it’s junk removal. But is an essential service that everyone needs. Here is how the listing is noted:
Not bad for a regional company that just opened their second location!
If you’d like to see your online traffic increase, Continue reading →
As a writer, the most common one I hear us: “Everyone can write. Why should I hire you to do it?”
Yes, everyone CAN write. But my question back is: “Can they write well?” When you are a business owner the words you use to create your brand and attract customers can make or break you.
You have only seconds to capture someone’s attention, Continue reading →